Vi and I spent a couple of weeks in Cuba a few years back for The American Conservative. Nice place, good people, government a mixed bag mostly…
Varadero, Cuba. Photo: FOE Staff
Some things surpass all understanding. Why in the name of God and little catfish are we embargoing Cuba? The revolution occurred in 1959, some 55 years ago. A young man then of 20 would now be 75. The Mariel boat lift came in 1980, 35 years ago. The same man of 20 would now be 55. Even a newborn would be 35. Which is to say that all “Cubans” under thirty-five, and a very high proportion of those older, in fact are not Cubans. I imagine a conversation:
Alejandro: “I am a Cuban, and proud of it.”
Me: “Ah, I see. Born in Cuba, I suppose.”
Alejandro: “Uh, no. Miami General, actually.”
“But a Cuban citizen, certainly.”
Alejandro: “Well, no. I am a US citizen. You see….”
Me: “Assuredly you have lived extensively in Cuba, for many years at least.”
Me: “Have you ever been to Cuba? I have.”
Alejandro: “Well…no, not exactly. I…you see….”
Me: “Yes, Alex, I believe I do see. You were born in America, speak native English, carry only a US passport, and have never been to Cuba. Ah, my fellow gringo, you are no more a Cuban than I am a Scotsman. Why do you pretend? Halloween doesn’t come until October.”
These pseudo-Cuban blatherers are the worst enemy of the Cuban people, a scourge keeping them forever in the semi-penury of an impoverishing embargo. If they are indeed Cubans, they are traitors to their people and if not, foreign oppressors.
My high-school ride. Cuba is a trove of antique cars, 1959 and back. It is not clear how forcing eleven million people to drive crumbling carcanchas conduces to American prosperity and security. FOE staff photo.
As for the Republican Party, they are the most repellent mob of patriotic poseurs, drumbeating jingoes, and disturbed curiosities ever to walk this or, probably, any other planet. Some would say that they are as reprehensible as the Democrats, though that would be a stretch.
The root of the matter is that man is a near derivative of the monkey, not an improvement on him. Man cannot entertain in what he regards as a mind more than a dozen things at once, and even this number would strain him. So he puts vast complexities, sprawling lands, and multitudinous populations into a single word, and thinks about that, because it is all he can manage.
When he thinks about Cuba, he thinks about Fidel Castro, this being one of perhaps three Cubans he has ever heard of. Three, if he is among the more sophisticated of Americans. He has learned that Castro is a first-rate blackguard and a murderous tyrant, which is true. Since he cannot distinguish between Cuba and Castro, he thinks the island must be punished.
According to the CIA’s Worldbook, Cuba has 11,047,251 [corrected] inhabitants. A probing mathematical analysis, the only kind I undertake, would suggest that one of them is Castro, and 11,047,250 [corrected] are not. Thus when frothing Republicans and Cuban impostures impose an embargo, they inflict grave damage on innocent people. The one person the embargo does not hurt is Fidel Castro. Can even the midget Talleyrands of Washington believe that because of the embargo Fidel cannot get sirloin and Jack Daniels ?
The embargo is the mean-spirited vengeance on the wrong people by a Washington miffed because Fidel beat them. He was a monster, yes, but Washington has never shown a disposition to avoid the company of monsters. Thing is, he won, and he made clowns of the CIA—or more correctly was a bystander as they made fools of themselves. This Washington cannot forgive.
What earthly purpose is the strangulation of the island thought to serve? Yes, yes, I know. “Castro is a Comminiss.” Right, got it. Today, Cuba. Tomorrow Arkansas. And so a ratpack of naïve adolescent petulants in the Senate are going to save the free world, which barely includes the United States, from a tiny impoverished country impoverished because we are saving the world from it. Whatever happened to grownups?
How los Castro stay in power. Countless signs, correctly attributing the impoverishment of an educated and industrious people to Washington, give the government a politically useful enemy. Without the embargo, Cuba would explode commercially and Fidel would be a remote memory in about three weeks. FOE photo.
The amusing thing is that Washington’s desire to contain Cuba (along with Russia, China, Iran, Africa, and the Moslem world) is probably all that keeps los Castro in power. All over one sees signs saying that the economic loss caused by three days of the embargo (or whatever) would pay for a new school. Washington gets the blame, correctly, for Cuba’s misery. Why is America ruled by people who seem to have been dropped on their heads as newborns?
What manner of place is Cuba, really? It is a dictatorship, well ahead of America in totalitarianism, but we are closing fast. Yet interesting tidbits abound. The CIA puts literacy at 99.8%, which I would have thought a little high, but would the CIA lie? (The US Department of Education put American literacy at 86% ) Further, says the CIA, a girl child can expect to receive fifteen years or education, and a boy, fourteen. Life expectancy, 78 years. (US 79.5) Infant mortality, 4.7 per 1000 births (US, 6.17) Medical expenditure as a proportion of GDP is very high. Racial mixture: 64% white, 26% mestizo, 9% black—yet enjoys universal literacy, says the CIA, and no race riots that I have heard of. Cuba is eighth in the world in proportion of its people in jail—lousy. The US is second, after the Seychelles.
If Washington had any decency, or if the pseudo-Cubans of Miami did, or if Washington intelligently wanted to bring los Castro down, or if it wanted to give American businesses a nice little market, I would drop the damned embargo. The island has all the requisites for being a super-conducting tourist magnet—exoticism, but not too much; safety, very low crime, glorious beaches, climate, proximity. It also has a highly educated workforce that needs work, which might appeal to businessmen.
But no. Pseudo-Cubes vote Republican, and all those senators with the flat spots on their heads don’t like Fidel. Iam going to leave the human race.